Monday, May 16, 2005

Media Bias

During the recent NRA convention, while waiting for the banquet to begin, I was standing by the huge panoramic window at the hotel, watching the rather small protest below. I was talking to a fellow NRA member and banquet attendee about how well the convention had gone, all of the new members signed up, and the huge crowds. I said how great this was, but it would not matter one whit because the media would spin it against us. We could work our fingers to the bone, and have, and all that work would be just a match guttering in the wind to just one anti gun news feature or article in the daily paper.

Denise has already mentioned the incredible anti-NRA bias of the Houston Chronicle. In a state that is very pro-gun (Texas ousted a governor, Ann Richards, largely because she would not sign concealed carry legislation) we have the only daily paper of Texas’ largest city sounding not very different from what I would expect from the Boston Globe.

Why is this? I can understand why the New York Times or Boston Globe would be biased to the Left and against the right to bear arms. The people that these newspapers serve are very liberal and these people consistently elect very liberal politicians. So it is no surprise that their major city newspapers would have a bias that tilts toward the Left. But this analogy doesn’t hold when you move out into the heartland of America, those so-called Red States. The newspapers in those areas are just as biased to the Left as the newspapers that serve Megalopolis and the Left Coast. There are two reasons for this.

1) Journalism Schools-Ever since Woodward and Bernstein brought down a President, the journalism profession has attracted activists who want to change the world. Virtually all of these activists are of the Leftist persuasion and pushing their agenda is their primary motivation. They graduate with a zeal to bring about change and their first assignments are often at second tier newspapers, many of which are located in the Red zone. The people that hire them also came from similar journalism schools. This creates a monoculture in the press where they rarely hear or never hear any challenges to their pre-conceived notions. From journalism school onwards there is an inculcated distrust and loathing of the Conservative side of the fence and little opportunity to have these feelings challenged.

2) Desire to advance—If a budding journalist gets a job at a smaller newspaper or television station and wants to advance in his chosen career, they have to advance to a major paper or station on the East or West Coast. In fact, our aspiring reporter may have graduated from a coastal journalism school like Columbia and have a burning desire to get back home from the boonies. As I said earlier, the media on the coasts is naturally to the Left because of the native population. So to appeal to the coastal media outlets, our budding reporter at a Red State media outlet will write articles and editorials that will appeal to their future employers. Then when a job opportunity presents itself, they can show from their past work that they have the proper perspective.

The effect of all this is that the people in the Red States, in particular, have a media that does not even begin to reflect their beliefs and seems to work at cross purposes to their most fervent desires. A media that pushes gun control when it is blatantly obvious that people in Fly Over country reject it.

What can we as individuals do? Well for one, we can cancel our subscriptions to biased, agenda driven newspapers like the Houston Chronicle who push an ideology that most Texans find repellent. We need to get out the word in blogs and encourage people to discover the truth for themselves. I am confident that a fair-minded person that has the desire to do their own research will come down on the side of gun rights. Also, we need to get the word out when the media gets things wrong. This happens every day so this can’t be too hard. Jeff Soyer’s weekly check of the bias is an excellent example of this kind of effort.

I’ll be honest, this will not be easy. The media in this country is very powerful and they preach an anti-gun, Leftist message from the print, television and big screen. We don’t have their kind of tools but we do have determination and we can work at the grassroots level, person to person to combat them.

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